30 October 2008

Then There Were Four: The Birth Story of Caleb

Caleb Thomas Smith

They say that every birth story is different. Now I don't know who "they" are, but I can tell you that my experience thus far has showed me that they are right.  Caleb's birth story, much like every birth story, is different from the rest.  Considering our past experience with Andrew's birth (see Oct 2007 blog post) you can understand why we would be a little uptight about this coming labor. Tyler especially was a little overzealous in his reactions. Every time I breathed funny or sighed or made a funny face he accused me of having labor pains and not telling him. Well, it is nice to know that he doesn't trust me; I cannot imagine why.  In light of our most recent birthing experience anyone can understand why Tyler was a little afraid to leave and go to work as we neared the end of this pregnancy.  Obviously he did not want to miss the birth that he was sure was going to be very fast; actually Caleb's birthing experience really started 6 days before he was born...

On Thursday, October 16th Tyler was working from home, which had become a normal thing, so that I could get groceries and we could save gas. Anyway, while he was doing whatever it is that he does (I have no idea), I felt what would be considered minor labor pains - Braxton-Hicks probably.  Naturally, I thought they were just B-H and didn't tell Tyler, but still planned to go run the errands that I had set aside to do. On my way to Augusta these pains started to increase some and I was a little nervous about being stuck in Augusta with no alternate driver and two small children.  So I stopped at Mister Market got some groceries and took my little self back home.  Obviously Tyler wanted to know why I was home about 2 hours early, and I had to tell him.  But I did assure him that they were very minor and nothing to get too worked up over. What does he do then? He calls everyone we have ever met to tell them that I am in labor. Great, now do you know why I didn't tell him earlier?  Well these so called contractions lasted for 48 hours (not a typo)  and did not progress hardly at all. I told you they were false labor, whatever happened to mother knows best? Oh wait, that is father knows best; whatever. 

So now everyone I know is calling wondering why they got a labor call, but no call to announce the birth. Man I love overzealous husbands! We managed to get in a fairly normal weekend because I refused to set everything aside for the future birth of a child not due to deliver for another week and a half. As it turns out no other signs of this child's coming were shown until Tuesday morning at 4 AM.  On Tuesday morning like every other morning I was having a hard time to sleep so I got up so that Ty could sleep. He followed me into the living room and pelted me with questions. Finally at 4:45 he had convinced me that it wasn't B-H again, and that we should call Amanda. To make a long story short by the time Amanda arrived I was definitely on board with the whole real labor theory and we left for the hospital at 5:20.  While in the car the labor progressed so fast that I was worried we wouldn't make it to the hospital, or that we would get in a car accident. Tyler was driving 70-80 miles per hour with his double flashes on through Augusta. We arrived in record time and Caleb Thomas Smith was born 45 minutes later. 

Although Caleb's birth was not as fast as Drew's, it was plenty fast enough. I learned a few things from this experience. One: Tyler's fear of missing the birth because of time to travel from work to home to the hospital was real, and if he had been working we probably wouldn't have made it to Maine General. Two: Braxton Hicks pains for me are apparently early signs of labor and once my true labor begins I have less than a couple of hours. Three: You must have a friend like Amanda while expecting so that you can leave your kids at the drop of a hat and not worry.  Four: Don't let your husband call anyone about labor until you are admitted to the hospital.  And Finally: It may take you four labor experiences to finally get that movie type experience of driving too fast through traffic with the thought that a cop would actually escort you if he saw you. 

Caleb Thomas Smith was born on 21 October 2008 weighing in at 6 lbs 2 oz and 19 inches long.  He is named after Caleb from the bible and Tyler's grandmother whose middle name is Thomas (really).  

28 October 2008

Ode to the Alpha Female

In life their are cat people and their are dog people and then their are the rest of us.  I do not consider myself either a cat or dog person, I may prefer one over the other, but in fact I only love one cat and not cats in general.  If you have ever visited my house you have met my cat, Penny.  Penny Patch Nicole Severy to be exact. 

When I was a little girl I begged my mother for a cat, and while we were living in VA my mother granted my wish. I received an orange little kitten whom I named Patch. Patch was a nice cat, but now looking back on it I realize that Patch mostly put up with my five year old personality and would rather have not been slept with, or picked up.  When we moved to Maine I was forced to find my kitty another home (very devastating for a little girl).  

Fortunately we had not lived in Maine long when my mother brought home the smallest kitten I had ever seen. She was working at a diner and they had found the starving kitten out back on the steps. Now it is true that my mother is not an animal person, but she is also compassionate. So she brought the cat home with the words of "If you can keep it alive, you can have it".  So I kept it alive for 17 long years. In that time Penny quickly grew from the most pitiful creature to an elegant tri-colored alpha female cat.  She ruled our house.  Any animal that visited, or moved in quickly learned that Penny was in charge. I have scars from protecting even the largest dogs from this cat.  She had this attitude that showed that she was the boss and she knew it.  

Just like my grandmother Penny had a "look" that she gave to you when you were being annoying

I was given the privilege of feeding, and caring for her from the time she was young and in return I received unconditional love. Penny knew when I needed her love, and she loved me through my absent time while at College, when I kicked her out of the bed, when I got married, and through each of the births of my children.  Just last week Penny welcomed Caleb as she did each of the boys: she laid in my lap while I was nursing and put her head on his belly.  It is true that she didn't really like a lot of people, but if I loved someone then she loved them too.  A more wonderful cat could not be found and I am truly thankful that I was given this 6 pound ball of fur.  

I will never find another cat like Penny and I never plan to look. Penny died yesterday afternoon while enjoying a snooze on the deck in the sun she was 17.5 years old.  I just thought that you might like to know why, although I am not an animal person, I love one cat. 


20 October 2008

Autumn = ... + Foliage!

The completion of our equation has come! 

Autumn = Pumpkins + Apples + Foliage

Now I know what you are thinking: Two of those are edible, but one is not, how do they go together? What I would like to propose is that the season of Fall brings them together so that they are all similar. In October of every year in Maine we receive God's grace in that we can enjoy these three items to their fullest.  The fact is that these are really all harvested items that take all Spring and Summer to mature to their beauty.  The sweetness of a crisp apple, the beauty of the red, orange, and yellow leaves, and the unique taste and decoration of the pumpkin are climaxes of a great season. This great produce result does not happen overnight; but is slowly transformed from early Spring when the seeds are planted, the leaves are budding, and the buds are fertilized.  

Every year, much like other New Englanders, our family (and yours) relishes in the harvest of Autumn. We enjoy our apple festivals, carve our pumpkins, and drive miles upon miles to view clusters of beautiful colored leaves.  Autumn is not yet over so if you have not had the pleasure of seeing some beautiful colored trees (if that is possible in Maine), or if you haven't been given the chance to pick some apples, or cook a pie from scratch: I pray that you are diligent in engrossing yourself in the harvest left to enjoy. You best hurry though, because this time is passing quickly, and although it comes every year, it is still something that we all miss when it passes.

Recently our friend Alison gave Tyler and I the gift of spending a day out of the house with no children. What do you think that we did? We drove all over Western Maine and down through New Hampshire viewing the beautiful colors, so in closing to this glorious season I will leave you with some pictures of the fall foliage to enjoy.

Height of Land

Coos Canyon

15 October 2008

Autumn = ... + Apples + ?

Aha! We Mainers love a good apple don't we? Where else in the country can  you go and find people upon people participating in Apple festivals; eating apples for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and paying more to pick the apple than to buy the apple.  Seeing as the fall season reaps so much fruit around our neck of the woods we also get wrapped up in the excitement.  Here are some pictures to show you just how much fun we have with crisp Maine apples. 

Considering the lack of height that these boys have they prefer to sit right in the trees to pick their apples. It makes reaching for the apple so much easier and is also a lot of fun. 

This year we went to the Apple Festival in Manchester with our good friends Alison and Charlotte. The boys had a great time jumping in the blow up eye sores, riding in the horse-drawn wagon and watching the parade. Alison and Charlotte are such a huge help with the boys, just look at what they do to carry Andrew around; He couldn't get away if he wanted to.

If you want a good recipe to eat apples for any meal then make up some German apple pancakes. I wasn't aware that Germans had a lot of apples, but they sure do know how to make a good pancake. It is also a great way to impress the ladies... just ask Alison; I bet the first man to make her these pancakes will capture her heart.

What else does Autumn bring? Well, it isn't something you can eat.

09 October 2008

Autumn = Pumpkins + ?

The season is upon us.  Need I say more? You don't even need to ask which season for no one can live in Maine and miss the glorious changes that take place at this time.  For with the start of Autumn comes three significant gifts from God; one of these gifts is the harvesting of pumpkins.

This has been a wonderful time for us partly because this is the first year, since moving to the woods, that we have had a decent pumpkin harvest.   And what comes with a good harvest? Pumpkin pies for this season and beyond!

What other gifts does God send us in Autumn? Just wait and I will show them to you.